Addressable fire alarm panels are usually much more advanced than their conventional counterparts, with a higher degree of programming flexibility and single point detection. Addressable fire alarm panels were introduced by many manufacturers during the microcontroller boom in the mid 1980s.
Intelligent fire alarm systems are designed for flexibility through custom programming specific to each application. Dedicated outputs are logically controlled by inputs based on the programming matrix written. They are capable of supporting multiple Signal Line Circuits (SLC) where each device on the SLC is assigned a unique identification called an address. In most cases the number of devices on an SLC can range from one to several hundred and vary in number of detectors and modules combined. Each device constantly communicates with the control panel through microprocessor technology to report its status on the SLC. Within seconds, alarms, supervisory and trouble conditions are alerted to the control panel and a precise location of the event is displayed.
Common addressable input devices (also known as initiating devices) include:
- Smoke detectors
- Fire alarm manual pull stations
- Monitor modules (used for common switches such as)
- Sprinkler water flow
- Pressure switches
- Tamper switches
- Conventional control panels
- Sprinkler water flow switch
Common addressable output devices include:
- Solenoid release
- Notification control modules
- Relay modules (used to perform events such as)
- Unloc doors
- Turning on/off fans
- Recalling elevators
- Activating other fire alarm panels
- Closing dampers
Advantages of intelligent fire alarm system:
- Cost effective for larger applications.
- The location of a fire condition is detected and recorded at each individual device, identifying exactly where the fire is occurring. This will improve response time for emergency responders.
- Lower ongoing service cost, because when a device goes into trouble (i.e. needs cleaning, repair or replacement), the panel will tell you the exact location of the device needing service.
- Online capabilities: New intelligent panels have the capability to provide detailed online notification of alarm/trouble/supervisory events.
Disadvantages of addressable fire alarm system:
- Cost, not as competitively priced for smaller applications.
- Typically with an intelligent panel, your peripheral devices (i.e. smoke detectors, etc…) tend to be more expensive than conventional devices.
- This panel is computer like and at times there maybe issues caused by the firmware (panel software). However, this is not common and the advantages of intelligent panel far outweigh any of these firmware issues.